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How To Grow Hydroponic Potatoes In 3 Steps

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If you are wondering how to grow hydroponic potatoes then you’ve come to the right place. In today’s article, we’re going to give you a step-by-step process to do one of the most basic hydroponic planting processes – the ‘bucket’ or ‘bin’ method.

It’s a solid way to grow your potatoes that you can do with a few odds and ends from the garage and if you’ve never tried growing hydroponic potatoes, then you are in for a real treat. You can avoid a lot of the usual pesky bugs this way and even get your yield a little faster, provided that you stick to our recommendations.

With proper care, hydroponic potato cultivation can lead to higher yields of delicious potatoes, free from common problems associated with traditional gardening.

If you’re ready, then let’s take a look at how to grow hydroponic potatoes for fun and delicious home-grown spuds!

Basic Hydroponic potatoes – How it’s done

At its most basic, your hydroponics setup is simply designed to grow your potatoes in a non-soil medium and to deliver it nutrients from water. It’s definitely got some perks – this method will grow your potatoes at an accelerated rate (you’ll save about a month of time, on average) and this keeps certain pests out of the equation.

Your yield may be a little smaller in the beginning but don’t worry – once you understand how it’s done, you’ll be quite surprised at how many yummy potatoes you’ll be getting from this system. So, where to start?

Well, for hydroponic potatoes, the simplest method is to modify a plastic bin or bucket to create proper drainage, and then we need to add a growing medium to hold your potatoes and also to establish a proper basic pH of 5.8 -6.2. 

The chosen growing medium – a blend of vermiculite, peat, and perlite – lets you fill it with water to the point where the medium is soaked and a slow, continuous amount of water passes through it and slowly drains through the holes in the bucket or bin. While you can adapt this with your automated hydroponics system of choice, for ease of use and for beginners we’re going to go with this method that you can manually water.

Don’t worry if it sounds a little complicated – just take a peek at the steps and it will quickly become crystal clear what we’re doing!

Materials checklist

  • Large bucket or plastic bin (min. 10″ in size)
  • Larger bin for sifting/harvesting later (or you could use a wheelbarrow if you’ve got one)
  • Growing medium: Blend Vermiculite, peat seed, and perlite for best results
  • Clay pellets or coco coir for supporting the root system
  • Mylar reflective material (for sprouts)
  • Net pots (1 for each plant)
  • 20-20-20 water-soluble fertilizer
  • 10-10-20 liquid fertilizer
  • Certified Seed potatoes

Required tools

  • Electric Drill with 1/4 inch bit 
  • Gloves
  • Eye protection
  • Tape measure
  • Marker (to mark drilling spots)

Steps – How To Grow Hydroponic Potatoes

1. Preparing your bucket

While there shouldn’t be a lot of flying plastic, put on your gloves and eye protection just to be on the safe side, and we’re going to mark the spots for holes in your bucket or bin and then drill them. 

Your holes should be placed about 2 inches up, and 3 inches apart so that all sides have these spaced drainage points, so use your measuring tape and mark the spots with your marker. Go ahead and drill the holes in the spots that you’ve marked and then we are ready to proceed.

Time to fill your bucket with the blend of vermiculite, peat seed, and perlite, and clay pellets at the bottom can facilitate proper drainage. The vermiculite keeps moisture in, the perlite will draw it up for better oxygen distribution, and the peat seed will help simulate a ‘soil experience’ for happy potatoes without actual soil.

This setup mimics the best hydroponic systems by ensuring the root zone of potato plants receives essential nutrients and adequate water levels.

2. Planting and layering your potatoes

Place your certified disease-free seed potatoes or smaller pieces of whole potatoes over a net pot, ensuring they are 6 inches apart to allow for ample growth space. As they start to appear outside of the perlite, you can add more mix to keep them covered like you would with soil-grown potatoes.

This method is suitable for growing a variety of potatoes, including sweet potatoes, fingerling potatoes like Red Pontiac, and even small tuber varieties, all of which can thrive in a controlled environment free from soil-borne diseases.

Here is a video of the stages so that you can have a better idea of what’s going on in the bin.

3. Growing and caring for your potatoes

To foster the best growing conditions, consider employing grow lights to provide consistent hours of light, especially if you can’t ensure hours of direct sunlight. Monitoring water temperature and using a water pump to circulate the nutrient-rich water solution can significantly impact potato growth.

Potatoes ideally need about 10 hours of sun daily – growing them outside is easiest but if you are growing them inside and need to get sunlight to sprouts in your bucket, then you can use the reflective mylar and a southern facing window. 

Watering should be done every 3-5 days so that the perlite mixture is kept moist. You can use regular tap water (or an automated hydroponic system if you’ve already got one). With tap, just fill the container until the perlite mix is moist at the top and the layers and drainage holes will take care of the rest.

When your sprouts start to appear, then you will want to add a tablespoon of your 20-20-20 fertilizer mix to a gallon of water and use this to water your potatoes. Pour it in until you see water draining from the drainage holes and then it’s perfect.

When your potatoes are around 20 inches high, then you should switch to the 10-10-20 fertilizer to go with your watering sessions.

For those looking to experiment with different systems, NFT (Nutrient Film Technique) and DWC (Deep Water Culture) systems are among the best choices for hydroponic potato cultivation, offering efficient nutrient delivery and easier management of water levels.

Harvesting your potatoes

Harvesting your bucket or bin potatoes is a piece of cake! All that you are going to need to do is fetch your wheelbarrow or the larger plastic bin we got for sifting, carefully dumping out the contents of your potato bin into the ‘barrow or bin that you’ll sift in, and search it thoroughly to find and put aside all of your lovely new potatoes.

Like regular spuds, you can store them away in a place that is cool and dry for enjoyment at your leisure. Congratulations, you’ve just grown your first batch of hydroponic potatoes!

Tips to tweak your hydroponic spuds to perfection

Now that you’ve got the basics that you need, we wanted to throw in some useful tips for first time growers that you can put to good use. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

If you’re growing inside, remember that 10 hours of sunlight is going to be rough even with that southern-facing window – consider your lighting options or better yet, grow your first batch outside.

Check the pH levels and EC of your water on a regular basis. It’s a good habit to get into and it will help to ensure your potatoes are getting the perfect conditions and nutrients to grow.

When you want to ‘go bigger’ with your spuds, an expandable hose drip system is cheap, effective, and can cover quite a large area. 

Remember that potatoes are a cool-weather crop. You want your nutrient water to be about 0 degrees and your soil medium should be as well. 

Depending on your location, if temperature ranges are a problem then you may want to consider inline cooling fans or heating fans. If you are growing indoors then a humidifier might also be a good option.

If you are using an automated watering system for your hydroponic potatoes, be sure to regularly inspect things like pumps, hoses, and your growing medium just to ensure that everything is flowing well and working as expected. Surprise clogs or pump issues can be disastrous, so regular upkeep is a MUST.

Additional tips for increasing your yield

If you’re having trouble getting a yield that you can be proud of, then sometimes a tip or two can help. Here are a few things that you can do to help ensure a bigger yield with your hydroponic potatoes:

Bigger bins get better results – potato root systems can descend into their medium to a depth of 12 inches, so having more space for the roots can get you much better results.  

When your water falls down to about 50%, consider flushing it out and replacing it with nutrient-enriched fresh water. This helps to ensure that the water supply is consistently nutritious and reduces the chance of problems from a diluted or poorly mixed water source.

Not all potatoes are going to grow as well hydroponically. When you are picking out certified potato seedlings, ask about which will be the best for hydroponic growing. Typically, they will be labeled at the nursery but it’s always good to ask anyways – sometimes you get some really stellar tips!

Soaking your potatoes in water for a few hours before you plant them can help you to get a head start on sprouting – you don’t have to do it, but it really kick-starts the process!

Incorporating a drip irrigation system can enhance the efficiency of water and nutrient delivery to the root zone, further boosting your potato crop’s potential for higher yields.

Conclusion

Hydroponic potato cultivation is not just about growing food; it’s a step towards sustainable urban agriculture. By adopting hydroponic farming techniques, you’re contributing to local food systems resilient against climate change and reducing the dependency on agricultural land. With hydroponics, you’re not only growing potatoes; you’re cultivating a greener future.

In today’s article we’ve given you step by step instructions on how to grow hydroponic potatoes using the bucket or bin method. This popular method is easy, dependable, and gives you a good foundation in some basic hydroponic strategies that you can build on. Once you’ve tried it with ‘manual’ watering, then be sure to upgrade your setup and planting area size and you can reap the rewards for yourself!

Just remember to go with hydroponic-friendly potato types and to keep the temperature of the medium and your nutrient water at a cool, steady 70 degrees for best results. Once you’ve started getting good yields of spuds, then why not expand to some other crops?

No soil, no pests, water svings, and amazing results — you’ve just gotta love hydroponics.

Until next time, thanks so much for reading and we hope to see you again very soon!

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